27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Sacked Brexit staff to stay on

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Just days after being told they are to be stood down, UK Public Servants dealing with the possibility of the country leaving the European Union (Brexit) without a deal have been ordered to carry on with their work.

The reversal came in an email from Prime Minister, Theresa May to every PS employee, stating that planning for a no-deal Brexit must continue, albeit with a “sensibly adjusted timescale”.

The original decision was greeted with fury by hardline Brexiteers in the Conservative Party who said they were prepared to leave the EU with no deal if that is what it takes.

With no negotiated outcome in sight, European leaders have agreed to potentially delay the UK’s exit until 31 October.

In the past two years, about 16,000 PS staff have been moved to Departments most likely to be affected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and the move to put no-deal planning on the backburner led to a swift backlash.

In her message, Ms May said some planning would continue, with Secretaries of Departments as well as Britain’s top PS employee, Sir Mark Sedwill making the call on which parts can be dropped.

“On preparations specifically for leaving the EU without a deal, you will rightly be guided by the Cabinet Secretary and by your own Permanent Secretaries about continued planning,” Mrs May said.

“Necessary preparations for a no-deal outcome must continue, though with sensibly adjusted timescales given the extension we have agreed.”

The Prime Minister said she would do everything she could to get an agreement through Parliament “so that we can leave the EU as soon as possible”.

London, 20 April 2019

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